\ ˈask How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäsk How to pronounce ask (audio) ; dialectal ˈaks \
asked\ ˈas(k)t How to pronounce ask (audio) , ˈäs(k)t , ˈask ; dialectal  ˈakst \; asking

Definition of ask

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to call on for an answer She asked him about his trip.
b : to put a question about asking her opinion
c : speak, utter ask a question
2a : to make a request of She asked her teacher for help.
b : to make a request for She asked help from her teacher.
3 : to call for : require a challenge that will ask much of us
4 : to set as a price asked $3000 for the car
5 : invite She asked a few friends to the party.

intransitive verb

1 : to seek information ask for her address
2 : to make a request asked for food
ask for it
: to behave in a way that invites punishment or retribution Experts used to think that battered women were "asking for it"—somehow masochistically provoking abuse from their men. Mercifully, that idea has now been discredited.— Michele Ingrassia
ask for trouble
: to behave in a way that is likely to result in trouble … you are asking for trouble if you try to lift too much weight …— Douglas Jeffrey



Definition of ask (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly British, informal
: something asked for, requested, or required of someone used especially in phrases like a big ask and a tough ask to say that what is being asked for or hoped for is difficult or unlikelyIt's a big ask, I think, demanding audiences recall a plot from two years ago, and while normally I don't mind a big ask … this particular ask utterly defeated me.— Deborah Ross

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Other Words from ask


asker noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for ask

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for ask


ask, question, interrogate, query, inquire mean to address a person in order to gain information. ask implies no more than the putting of a question. ask for directions question usually suggests the asking of series of questions. questioned them about every detail of the trip interrogate suggests formal or official systematic questioning. the prosecutor interrogated the witness all day query implies a desire for authoritative information or confirmation. queried a librarian about the book inquire implies a searching for facts or for truth often specifically by asking questions. began to inquire of friends and teachers what career she should pursue

ask, request, solicit mean to seek to obtain by making one's wants known. ask implies no more than the statement of the desire. ask a favor of a friend request implies greater formality and courtesy. requests the pleasure of your company solicit suggests a calling attention to one's wants or desires by public announcement or advertisement. a letter soliciting information

Examples of ask in a Sentence

Verb I need to ask a question. Did you ask her yet? “Have you seen the movie yet?” he asked. a list of frequently asked questions “If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?” “I'm 35 years old. Why do you ask?” “Do they have any soda?” “I don't know. I'll go ask.” I would have given it to him, but he never asked. We had to stop and ask directions. May I ask the time? Did you ask permission to leave?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Japanese primatologists were the first to ask whether animals have developed rituals of their own. Maciek Pożoga, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Japan’s Wild Snow Monkeys Can Teach Us About Animal Culture," 5 Jan. 2021 If Wentz decides to ask for a trade, the Eagles should have several interested suitors. Rob Maaddi, ajc, "AP Source: Wentz needs time to think about future in Philly," 5 Jan. 2021 Garcia, who is of Mexican and Cuban descent, told me Dignidad’s meeting with Macmillan had given her the courage to approach the publisher and ask for a conversation. Lila Shapiro, Vulture, "Blurbed to Death," 5 Jan. 2021 Many companies plan to ask their employees to return to the office once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available later this year. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Nearly 30% of working professionals would quit if they had to return to the office post-pandemic," 5 Jan. 2021 Savit said his office will ask judges to issue restrictions on defendants that are based on ensuring public safety and not their ability to pay. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, "New Washtenaw County prosecutor will stop seeking cash bail," 4 Jan. 2021 The Development Services Agency was set to ask the Controlling Board to approve the loans during a meeting in March. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Sherwin-Williams gets $70 million in interest-free state loans for new Cleveland headquarters, Brecksville R&D facility," 4 Jan. 2021 Klein fought for the rights of women to open bank accounts or buy stocks in their own name, without having to ask their husbands or fathers for permission as required by law in earlier decades. Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times, "Joan Dempsey Klein, a California appellate court judge and a champion of women’s rights, dies at 96," 3 Jan. 2021 If that’s the case, your best option is to get on the phone with the company and ask for assistance. David Nield, Popular Science, "5 easy fixes for common computer problems," 3 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Their original ask was for an allowance of 4,596 people -- 23.65% of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse’s typical 19,432-person maximum. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers allowed nearly 2,000 fans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse after state approves request," 29 Dec. 2020 His only ask of his boss, had his boss inquired, would have been to commit to giving him more than five minutes’ notice to be available for a call or online shift. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "Can companies help working parents without alienating everyone else?," 29 Dec. 2020 That price tag doesn’t even factor in contracts for new coaches and potential buyouts to be made to their schools if necessary, a big ask during this pandemic. Nick Moyle,, "Tom Herman to coach Texas football in 2021," 12 Dec. 2020 Japanese regulations have called for greater ventilation, but this is a hard ask in parts of the country that experience freezing temperatures throughout winter, a situation shared by South Korea. James Griffiths, CNN, "South Korea and Japan called in the military to fight Covid. As winter looms, they aren't taking any chances," 7 Dec. 2020 This one is a relatively small ask, but one that can bring joy and comfort to thousands of families who are facing tough decisions in these difficult times. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, "Some of us are lucky in this pandemic. And here’s what we need to do.," 30 Nov. 2020 This often leads to dramatic price cuts, and Kanodia is far from the first to significantly lower his ask. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, "In Bel-Air, a 34,000-square-foot spec mansion gets an $81-million price cut," 14 Dec. 2020 Containing Waller is a tough ask for a Browns linebacker group that hasn’t faired well versus the pass all year. cleveland, "Diving into the Browns’ linebackers vs. Raiders tight end Darren Waller, and what receivers may step up?– An Orange and Brown Talk Special Edition," 30 Oct. 2020 The disappointing night against the Sooners left Roadrunners coach Steve Henson imploring his team to play with more energy, toughness and fight — a tough ask on a tight turnaround. Greg Luca,, "Road-weary UTSA comes alive in second half to secure rout of Sul Ross," 4 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ask.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ask


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ask


Middle English, from Old English āscian; akin to Old High German eiscōn to ask, Lithuanian ieškoti to seek, Sanskrit icchati he seeks


noun derivative of ask entry 1

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Time Traveler for ask

Time Traveler

The first known use of ask was before the 12th century

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Statistics for ask

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ask.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for ask


How to pronounce ask (audio) How to pronounce ask (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ask

: to say or write something to someone as a way of gaining information : to request an answer to a question
: to tell someone in the form of a question that you want to be given something or that you want something to happen : to request something
: to invite (someone) to go somewhere or do something


\ ˈask How to pronounce ask (audio) \
asked; asking

Kids Definition of ask

1 : to seek information by posing a question She asked if I was worried. They asked about our trip.
2 : to make a request Did you ask for help?
3 : to set as a price I'm asking ten dollars for my skates.
4 : invite sense 2 I asked some friends to my party.
5 : to behave as if seeking a result You're asking for trouble.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ask

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ask

Nglish: Translation of ask for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ask for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ask

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